Vitamin D and calcium supplements dropped melanoma risk by 50 percent in women at high risk of developing this life-threatening skin cancer, according to a new study from Stanford University published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
Researchers zeroed in on women with a history of non-melanoma skin cancer (such as basal or squamous cell cancers) enrolled in the Women’s Health Initiative, a large clinical trial involving 36,282 postmenopausal women who received either placebo or 400 international units of vitamin D and 1,000 milligrams of calcium carbonate per day.
“In preventive medicine, we want to target people most at risk for the disease,” said dermatologist Jean Tang, MD, PhD, lead author of the study in a university report. “If you previously had a non-melanoma skin cancer, calcium plus vitamin D might reduce your risk of the more deadly melanoma.”
But the supplements didn’t help everyone. Study data show melanomas were detected in about as many women without a history of non-melanoma skin cancer who took the supplements as in their placebo-group counterparts.
The study was published online on June 27 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.